Losing inside the final minute has taught the young Sea Eagles a very valuable lesson according to Manly Warringah Holden Cup Coach Wayne Lambkin.
Trailing 22-20 in Townsville last Saturday, the Sea Eagles were attacking the tryline before a drop ball in the dying stages saw the North Queensland Cowboys race the length of the field to snatch a 28-20 victory.
It was a match the Sea Eagles had plenty of chances to win but some poor options at crucial times saw the Cowboys escape. Both teams were undefeated before the match.
“Although we didn’t get the result that we went there for, we learnt a lot of lessons that we can compete under extreme circumstances including flying up on the day of the game,’’ Lambkin said.
“We went there knowing it was going to be an 80 minute game. We just couldn’t get the job done in the 79th minute.
“They were dirty on themselves which is a good thing. Once we spoke about it in the dressing room, the players from last year were saying the score would have gotten out of hand when the Cowboys scored a couple of tries to get in front.
“However this year, we are still competing and holding up blokes over the try line believing we can win. If you have got that little bit of belief about you, you are going to win a couple of games under pressure, and that will be another feather in our cap.”
The loss has proven costly with centre Tevita Funa (knee) and prop Joseph Ma’u (ankle) undergoing surgery today.
“Tevita will be out for four months and Joseph is out for three months,’’ Lambkin said.
“It is shattering news. Tevita has had a great start to the season. The biggest positive out of it is that he is as young man who will recover and come back from it.
“Tevita is a good team man, is well liked, and just his presence around the team once he starts doing his rehab will be a positive for us. He will be greatly missed on the field.
“Joseph is just a tough kid who has been doing his job. He just rolls his sleeves up every week. He came to the club this year and has been very good the first three games.
“He will be a real big loss for us. Joseph was giving me a good 60 minutes of footy every week. He does all the simple things really well that other people might not see but is very noticeable to me.”
To cover the loss of Funa, Lambkin has moved Tom Wright to centre with captain Cade Cust returning to five-eighth for the clash against Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Lottoland on Saturday. Kick-off is 12.15pm.
Round 4 Game Day
Saturday, March 25.
Gates open: 12:00pm
Holden Cup Kick-off: 12.15pm: Manly v Canterbury
Intrust Super Kick-off: 2.10pm: Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v Canterbury
NRL Kick-off: 4:30pm: Manly v Canterbury